An affect phobia model explains emotional eating in obese people attending a weight management clinic

  • J. Egan
  • S. Fox


Background Finnegan, Egan & Gibbons (2014) reported how mindful awareness and attitude to emotional expression directly and indirectly affected emotional eating and BMI in a community sample. These findings have not been previously tested in a clinical setting. Objectives To test whether an Affect Phobia Model developed with a community sample would be a useful model for accounting for emotional eating in a clinical sample of adults attending a weight management programme.  Method A cross-sectional sample of 97 overweight people attending a weight management clinic completed the emotional eating subscale of the Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (DEBQ-em), Attitude towards Emotional [removed]AEE) scale and the Observe subscale of the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills scale and Clinical measures of body mass index (BMI).  Results Regression analyses revealed that AEE was a significant predictor of emotional eating (β = .59, p = .000). The AEE subscale, control (β = .39, p = .026) and the DEBQ-em subscale diffuse (β = .37, p = .045) were statistically significant predictors of BMI. Mediation analyses using Hayes (2015) process macro, revealed that observe skills had a significant indirect effect on the relationship between AEE and emotional eating.  Conclusions. AEE has a direct effect on emotional eating in a clinical sample. Mindful awareness mediates the relationship between a person's belief that they must control their expression of emotions and their level of emotional eating. These results further support an affect phobia model of emotional eating which may prove a useful adjunct to interventions for obesity.
Poster presentations